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History of Tattoos - Ancient Ink

Author: Bob Matheson

Tattoos are a passionate topic these days. People get tattoos for a lot of reasons. Millions of styles have been applied and continue to be created. But tattoos are not a new obsession. The history of tattoos is a novel, not a short story, and they have been here for a long time.

Oetzi The Iceman

Nobody can truly say exactly when the history of tattoos all started. The most ancient acknowledged tattoo was exposed in 1991. It was found on a mummy called Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be not less than 5300 years old. His tattoos are comprised of horizontal and vertical lines. There's some dispute as to the reason the tattoos are there.

Upon discovery of the remains, researchers have been able to do little but speculate that this most ancient form of tattoo was designed with the intent of fending off evil spirits, or that it may well have been some kind of rite-of-passage.

The most common suggestion is that the tattoos were designed for medicinal purposes. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are placed on a number of joints on the body. The thought is that the tattoos were created at the same time as a type of acupuncture was administered to relieve tender joints. In our day, the identical locations are used for acupuncture. Other theories vary from social class and ritual markings to tribal inscription or simple preference.

Combined on his spine and behind one knee and on one ankle, the Ice Man had approximately fifty-seven tattoos. While it's not possible to do more than speculate as to the actual explanation for them, it without doubt shows that tattoos aren't unique to the contemporary period.

Seeing that the Ice Man was the oldest mummified human remains discovered in Europe, tattoo lovers of the present era have the past on their side-- there's nothing "contemporary" about the history of tattoos.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians are one of the most well known ancient societies for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been shown to be adorned in an assortment of tattoos. Women displayed tattoo patterns that were limited to women only. These designs were generally a sequence of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos in Egyptian society are thought to have been forms of ritual markings.

Oriental Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos had been first used on clay statues. These human shaped figures were representative of a departed individual and have been found in the sepulchres of the person in whose likeness they had been designed. The tattoos had been engraved or painted on the faces of the figures. It is believed that these markings have religious or magical connotation. The figures have been found in burying places that have been dated to 3,000 BC.

Japan's first acknowledged tattoo is from 297 AD and has been shown to be for decorative purposes only. Tattoo artists were referred to as the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were recognized as masters and ultimately created the full body suit tattoo.

Although Oriental symbols are extremely popular for tattoos in America, it's not widely known that both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have maintained a fervent antagonism to the ritual of tattooing throughout history. With both societal and religious viewpoints agreeing that tattooing is a ritual that shouldn't be engaged in, it's nevertheless deemed to be a way of contaminating one's body. For the ancient Chinese, tattooing was applied as a penalty for criminal activity, placing such obvious marks on someone to forever brand him as having the status of a law breaker.

Tattoos have been found in history all over the world. They have been determined to be a symbol of a variety of things such as social position, religion and many times merely for decoration. Found on men and women alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, dimension and color pattern imaginable. No matter if they have been demonstrated to be something that was previously held sacred or they are for decoration only, tattoos have been around for ages and will continue to be here for a long time to come.

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